Two plead responsible with veteran politician Martin Lee amongst these within the dock over one in every of 2019’s largest democracy protests.
Two former Hong Kong legislators have pleaded responsible to prices of organising or taking part in one of many largest pro-democracy protests within the Chinese language-controlled metropolis in 2019.
The 2 had been amongst 9, together with veteran pro-democracy politician Martin Lee and media tycoon Jimmy Lai, whose trials obtained underneath approach on Tuesday within the semi-autonomous territory.
The 9 had been arrested with a number of others in April final 12 months in what was seen as a transfer to crack down on dissent.
The 2 who pleaded responsible had been Au Nok-hin and Leung Yiu-chung, each former members of the Hong Kong legislature.
Au had been charged with organising and taking part in an unlawful meeting and Leung was charged with taking part in an unlawful meeting.
The fees stemmed from a protest on August 18, 2019, which was estimated to have drawn multiple million folks, regardless of heavy rain.
Organisers described it because the second-largest protest of that 12 months, with an estimated 1.7 million folks marching peacefully for hours, largely carrying black and carrying umbrellas to guard them from the rain.
The 2019 protests, fuelled by a notion Beijing was curbing the wide-ranging freedoms promised to the previous British colony on its return to Chinese language rule in 1997, plunged Hong Kong into its largest political disaster because the handover.
Leung and Au will hear the decision on March 22.
‘Rule by concern’
The opposite seven pleaded not responsible.
They included Lee, the 82-year-old veteran of Hong Kong’s democracy motion, and Jimmy Lai, a newspaper writer who’s being held with out bail underneath the Nationwide Safety Legislation that China imposed on the territory in June final 12 months.
Veteran activists Lee Cheuk-yan, and Leung Kwok-hung, often known as Lengthy Hair, shouted “Object to political prosecution!” once they made the not-guilty plea.
The 9 every face as many as 5 years in jail if convicted.
Forward of the trial, supporters and a number of other of the accused rallied outdoors the court docket. One banner learn “Peaceable Meeting is Not a Crime; Disgrace on Political Prosecution.”
Lee Cheuk-yan mentioned that the regulation had turn out to be an instrument of political suppression. “It is vitally unhappy to witness the deterioration of the rule of regulation in Hong Kong right into a rule by concern,” he mentioned.
Protests in Hong Kong can solely proceed with the permission of authorities, though rights teams have lengthy criticised the usage of prosecutions in relation to unauthorised meeting.
Since 2019, protests have been all however outlawed with authorities both refusing permission on safety grounds or later due to the pandemic.
The nationwide safety regulation, punishing something Beijing deems secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with international forces with as much as life in jail, has additionally curbed political exercise.
For the reason that introduction of the regulation, the federal government has disqualified opposition politicians and jailed activists, whereas authorities have banned slogans, songs and pro-democracy political exercise in faculties.